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Senate advances anti-abortion bill

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Anti-abortion supporters rally on the first floor at the Capitol, Monday, February 25, 2019. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]
Anti-abortion supporters rally on the first floor at the Capitol, Monday, February 25, 2019. [DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Under a bill advanced by Senate Republicans on Thursday, Oklahoma voters would be asked to specify that the state constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

Senate Bill 195, which advanced along partisan lines on Thursday and now heads to the House, would call for a statewide election to ask voters to declare that nothing in the Oklahoma Constitution secures or protects the right to perform or receive an abortion, nor does the state constitution prevent statutes being enacted that prohibit abortion, regulate abortion or regulate abortion differently from other acts or procedures.

"All this would do is amend the state constitution to say that the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion," said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, the author of the bill.

While Democrats voted against the bill, it was a Republican lawmaker with the most vocal opposition.

“Every year we come up here and offer pro-life legislation that essentially has no impact,” said Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, who authored a bill this year that would have classified abortion as murder.

Silk claimed SB 195 did nothing to stop abortion.

The bill passed 40 to 8.

Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, said the bill was a distraction from more important issues.

“I am extremely disappointed that we are discussing and spending time on such a polarizing bill instead of working on policies that actually help Oklahomans,” Kirt said.

Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, said a better way to reduce abortion would be to improve education and economic opportunities for Oklahoma women.

“This is in no way addressing the root issue or the root cause,” Hicks said.

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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